P.O. BOX 2120
January 26, 2001
TO: Division Superintendents
FROM: Jo Lynne DeMary
Superintendent of Public Instruction
SUBJECT: Application for Special Education 2000-2001 Local Improvement Grants ("Sliver Funds")

Background and Purpose of "Sliver" Funds

In years when the federal special education appropriation to states increases at a rate greater than inflation, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires states to reserve the amount above the rate of inflation to make subgrants to local education agencies (LEAs). The subgrants are to assist LEAs in providing direct services and in making systemic changes to improve results for children with disabilities. The State Education Agency (SEA) may establish priorities in awarding these subgrants to LEAs competitively or on a targeted basis. The purpose of the subgrants, as distinguished from federal special education flow-through funds, is to provide funding that the SEA can direct to address particular needs not readily addressed through the use of flow-through funds. The SEA may direct the use of these funds to promote innovation, capacity-building, and systemic changes that are needed to improve educational results.

As a result of the increase in the federal appropriation for the 2000-2001 school year, the Virginia Department of Education (DOE) has reserved $2.5 million under this IDEA "sliver" provision. These funds are being offered to school divisions and state-operated programs as subgrants to assist them in improving their programs within the context of the performance goals and indicators of Virginia's State Improvement Plan for Special Education (SIP).

Application Process

School divisions and state-operated programs (SOPs) may apply for these local improvement grants for the 2000-2001 school year using the attached application. The awarded funds may be carried over until September 30, 2002. Each school division and SOP has been allocated an amount equal to $8.10 per special education pupil, with $4,000 minimum if less than 50 pupils are served, and $14,500 minimum if 50 or more pupils are served. The list of allocations is attached.

Please understand that "sliver" funds are available only in the years that Congress increases the federal appropriation at a rate greater than the rate of inflation. Therefore, you should plan the scope and continuation of this project with the knowledge that grants may not be available in future years. The federal appropriation increase for 2000-2001 was unusually large, and we believe the likelihood of future increases of this magnitude to be minimal.

Completed applications for these funds must be received by 5 p.m. March 1, 2001. Any allocations not applied for will be added proportionately to the allocations of school divisions and SOPs that do apply. Two or more school divisions or SOPs may combine their allocations and submit a joint application, provided a single school division or SOP is designated as fiscal agent for the grant. Mail completed applications to:

John Mitchell, Acting Director

Office of Special Education and Student Services Virginia Department of Education
P. O. Box 2120
Richmond, VA 23218-2120

For questions or assistance, contact Mr. Mitchell, at (804) 225-2704 or (